Oblomov is a milestone of Russian literature
by Ivan Gontsarov
. Gotsarov's style reminds a lot his more famous colleaque Fyodor Dostoyevsky
. Taken this novel, the comparison is not unfair, although Dostoyevsky's bibliography is much larger.
Ilja Iljits Oblomov is a central character. He's an extremely lazy noble. He spends all his days sleeping, lying in a bed and eating. One day, he is introduced to a young lady Olga and both of them fall in love. The spirit is blown into Oblomov's life but this doesn't develop into action. Oblomov is full of life whenever Olga is around but what "life" means to Oblomov is just dreaming about the future. At the moment Oblomov is left alone suspicions sneak into his mind. He sees difficulties everywhere, impossible to overcome. They are a good excuse for inaction.
Idle dreaming could go for a life when the steady income is granted but eventually Oblomov is betrayed by his so-called friends. It is also Olga who wishes that Oblomov takes up some social life and noble tasks. She feels she would be suffocated by Oblomov's idleness if there was no change. But the change is not for Oblomov's personal traits. He's far too accustomed to sleeping.
Eventually Oblomov and Olga break up because Olga finally realizes he cannot change. Oblomov falls back into sleeping and dullness. He gets ripped off but is finally saved by an old German friend Stolz. In the end, to shock for his friend he marries his hostess. Given the unhealthy lifestyle, Oblomov dies onto his, correct, bed.
I wonder if Gontsarov did know how marijuana effected. Oblomov is the perfect example of man who does too much spliff. In the novel, he does not. Only some vodka is consumed.
Another interesting consept is the critic of idle nobility. Oblomov is absolutely useless but on the other hand Stolz is so efficient organizer he makes Oblomovka, Oblomov's village, to flourish. I would say that Stolz is rather the harbinger of capitalism - the idea Gontsarov touches with few words.
The most interesting thing is to think what Gontsarov means by representing Oblomov as a very gentle person, a person with a bottomless heart. He doesn't have any bad thoughts about anyone. In this sense, Oblomov is a close relative of Myshkin of Dostoyevsky's Idiot. It appears to me that it's his lack of ambition that makes him so good person. Only thinking about this idea makes reading the novel worthwhile.
The book sports over 500 pages which sounds a lot after you've read first 150. There was times I thought I've seen it all but I'm very happy I didn't put the book into a shelf. I've told only about Oblomov but the book features also four, five other characters who are kind of arch types, in good and bad sense of the word. I strongly recommend the book for anyone who loves Russian literature. Maybe this is not the best one to start with but do not miss if you're into reading.